Pepsi Pushes Social Graphs To Help Consumers Build Identity And Brand Loyalty
Brands need to stop shouting at consumers and pull them up on the mountain to stand side by side. That's the message Frank Cooper, senior vice president and chief consumer engagement officer at PepsiCo Americas Beverages, sent attendees Monday during the keynote at the IAB Annual Leadership Meeting 2010 in Carlsbad, Calif.
"We remain in the middle of a brand marketing crisis," Cooper says, pointing to the rapid pace of loss of brand loyalty that leads to a decline in marketing budgets and return on investments. "The marketing model is failing its most basic mission."
The model that most marketers have relied on for 75 years is broken, he says. Now more than ever, brands have an opportunity to become part of consumers' lives. Social media and social graphs will provide the online technology that enables marketers to achieve this goal.
Marketers need to create what Cooper calls "identity value" to help consumers define themselves. He points to Pepsi's campaign "you're the Pepsi generation" to connect youth worldwide. Campaigns need the human connection, he says. It's not enough for brands to announce who they are, but rather help consumers define themselves.
That basic mission to connect with consumers and help them build identity through the brand will become Pepsi's big push for 2010. To do this, Cooper suggests the industry must take three actions: rethink the fundamentals of brand marketing and make a shift from transactional to identify values, redesign the way marketers approach consumers, and rebuild brand identity around social networks. Not just social networks, such as Facebook and Twitter, but through social graphs.
It also creates an opportunity for technology companies to step in and create the technology to make this happen. Cooper told MediaPost the biggest challenge to succeed in social media marketing remains gaining access to the available tools to analyze campaigns. He says Pepsi will continue working with individuals at top universities to develop mapping tools to improve analysis.
The analysis should help marketers identify the perfect point in which to connect with consumers. He also offered this guidance: Rather than shout down to consumers from high on a pedestal, brands have the opportunity to pull consumers up onto the pedestal with them by creating a meaningful dialog through a variety of platforms that can help consumers live their values. Adding value to people's lives will emerge as the basic way that brands can create that connection. Consumers in turn will reward brands with loyalty.
Cooper's mantra to build closer relationships with consumers who love Pepsi led the company's decision not to run an ad in this year's Super Bowl. Not an easy decision after being part of the game for about 25 years.
Today, creating a meaningful relationship with consumers requires brands to do something different. In this case it means that Pepsi in 2010 will generate deeper connections with consumers through social media.
The decision not to run a Super Bowl ad -- supported by the theory that Pepsi would create and outpace any press the company could have received by running the ad -- proved successful, according to Cooper.